Energy Systems Research

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I enjoy connecting the components of complex systems in novel ways that benefit society. This drives my fascination with urban energy systems and my goal to improve global energy sustainability. I pursue that goal by combining engineering and operations research methods to explore problems at the intersection of cities, energy, economics, and policy.

My current work uses system modeling techniques to design autonomous urban energy systems that consume electricity more flexibly in support of a smarter, cleaner electric grid. This flexible electricity consumption allows millions of autonomous devices to participate in dynamic electricity markets to do things like balance solar and wind output. My current research program studies 1) how household energy consumption can be electrified, stored, and automated; 2) how that automation can be coordinated at neighborhood scales, and 3) how those neighborhood aggregations can interact with electricity markets to reduce power sector emissions.

Postdoctoral Researcher
Engineering & Public Policy
Carnegie Mellon University
Azevedo Research Group

Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering
The University of Texas at Austin
Webber Energy Group

tdeetjen@gmail.com
twitter.com/ThomasDeetjen


current projects


Private and public costs and benefits of U.S. residential heat pump adoption

Heat pumps are a high-efficiency technology for electrifying heating. When a homeowner retrofits a furnace or boiler with a heat pump, they increase their electricity consumption but reduce their fossil-fuel combustion. The cost, emissions, and electric grid implications of these retrofits varies based on the house’s construction quality, its climate, and its regional electric grid. This project simulates the private economics behind residential heat pump adoption and quantifies the public cost and benefits of large-scale heat pump adoption. The project also studies how adding thermal energy storage to a heat pump system might increase its net private and public value.

Power sector carbon index for the United States

The emissions intensity of the power sector changes over time. These changes are primarily driven changes in fuel prices, energy policy, and the retirement and construction of power plants. This project’s website tracks changes in the U.S. power sector’s carbon emissions intensity. I will be helping this existing project by automating the data collection process, improving the website, and leading new research that increases the geographic resolution of the carbon index map.

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